Titanic: was there really a Jack and Rose?

And did they have sex in the back seat of a 1912 Renault?

James Cameron, the writer and director of Titanic based Kate Winslet’s character, Rose du Witt Bukater, on real life American artist Beatrice Wood.

Like Rose, Beatrice was the daughter of wealthy socialites and defied her parents to pursue a career as an artist. She lived an extraordinary life, earning accolades as an actress as well as pioneering the Dada art movement.

She also gained a great reputation as a sculptor and potter, and her private affairs – she was reputed to have had a love triangle with artist Henry Duchamp and his friend Henri-Pierre Roché – scandalised America. Then, when she was 90, she took up writing. Her 1985 autobiography was called I Shock Myself.

She was 105 when she died. When asked the secret of her longevity she said, ‘I owe it all tochocolate and young men.’

But Beatrice was never on the Titanic.

There were two Roses who were on board and who survived the sinking. One was Rosa Abbott, a third class passenger, who jumped into the water with her two sons. She was the only woman to be pulled from the water and survive – the rest were crew.

The other Rose was Miss Rose Amélie Icard, who was a maid to Mrs George Nelson Stone. She and Mrs Stone were rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat 6.

What about Jack Dawson?

There was a J Dawson on the Titanic, but the ‘J’ stood for Joseph, not Jack, and he was a member of the Titanic crew.

He had grown up in the notorious Monto tenement slums of Dublin. When he was twenty, he escaped by joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. After leaving the army, he signed on for the maiden voyage of the Titanic, working in the boiler room.

When they hit the iceberg, he had the foresight to put his National Sailors and Firemen’s Union card into his dungarees before going topside. The card was found on his body the next day.

He was buried in Nova Scotia where he rested in relative obscurity before finding world fame eighty-five years later, after the release of the film.

His grave is number 227 in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and it has become a shrine to many of the movie’s fans, who leave photographs, cinema stubs and pictures of themselves on the grave. Some even leave hotel keys – though I wonder what they’d do if they heard the key turning in the lock at night, since Jack has been dead for over a hundred years.

Now, the question you’ve all been dying to ask:

Would getting on the door have saved Jack?

On the night of the sinking, the sea temperature was around 28°F.

Our bodies lose heat thirty times faster in water than in the air. When our core temperature falls below 89°F we start to lose consciousness. Below 86°F, heart failure can occur, which is the most common cause of hypothermia-related deaths.

Jack was young and fit so could have survived for up to an hour in the water. If Rose had helped him up onto the door – and I think, after all he’d done for her, she could have had a better go – there were no guarantees. Some people on the lifeboats still died from the cold.

Finally, more importantly:

Could they have had sex in the back seat of Jackie’s car?

There were about thirty cars in the Titanic’s hold. All but five belonged to first class passengers returning from touring holidays in Europe. But only one was actually listed on the manifest.

It belonged to Titanic survivor William Earnest Carter, and it was a 1912 35 HP Renault Coupe de Ville. Cameron used Carter’s original documents for the vehicle to recreate it in the film.

But what Cameron didn’t show us is that it was almost certainly packed in a wooden crate.

So, unless Jack had a claw-hammer with him, the answer to the final question is: probably not.

 

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About Colin

Colin Falconer
Colin Falconer is a best-selling author known for historical thrillers such as Silk Road, Harem, Fury, and Feathered Serpent. He has published over 30 books, which have been translated into 25 languages, distinguishing him as a prominent figure in historical fiction.

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